Zim cricket squad leaves for India

Thirteen players and five officials left the Zimbabwe capital for Johannesburg en-route to New Delhi, to play in the preliminary round of the ICC Champions Trophy.

Zimbabwe will meet the West Indies in Ahmedabad next Sunday. Their second match is against Sri Lanka next Tuesday and their last one against Bangladesh on Friday the 13th of October 2006.

The top two sides in the preliminary round will join Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa in the next round, where the teams will be divided into two groups of four. The top two from each group will make it to the play-offs for the final, which will be at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai on Sunday the 5th of November 2006.

The teams that have qualified directly for the main round of the tournament will start arriving in New Delhi from Friday, with South Africa the first to go through the arrivals lounge.

Speaking as the squad left for India, Zimbabwe skipper Prosper Utseya said the key to their success in the ICC Champions Trophy preliminary round lay in winning their opening encounter against the West Indies.

“A victory against the West Indies will set the tone for our whole campaign. It will also be a good morale booster for our tricky assignment against Sri Lanka in the second game. The boys are generally in good shape and will give it their best shot,” said the pint-sized captain.

And the squad was indeed looking good in their warm-up match against a select side at the Zimbabwe Cricket Academy on Tuesday. Top-order batsman Hamilton Masakadza put up a fast 100 off 80 balls, while Brendan Taylor knocked 58 runs from 52 deliveries and Terrence Duffin made 54.

“It’s obviously a tough challenge given that we are going to play West Indies and Sri Lanka who have both been performing well and are also ranked above us.

“We should average at least 250 to 270 runs and that also needs good fielding and batting from some individuals but we are likely to face difficulties from both the West Indies and Sri Lanka,” said Zimbabwe coach Kevin Curran.

As the Zimbabwe squad left the country, team physiotherapist Amato Machikicho was satisfied with the overall physical state of the boys:

“There will always be a few niggles here and there but at the moment all the boys in camp are fit.

Prosper Utseya is fully recovered and Tawanda Mupariwa has shrugged off a nagging ankle injury sustained during Bangladeshi’s tour to Zimbabwe in August.

They both played exceptionally well in the last MTN One-Day International against South Africa recently,” he said.

The rest of the Zimbabwe squad comprises Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Terrence Duffin, Anthony Ireland, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Edward Rainsford, Piet Rinke, Vusumuzi Sibanda, Gregory Strydom and wicket-keeper Brendan Taylor.

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